|Vol. 13 No. 5 May 2011||
Many believe that all religious people are acceptable to God regardless of their particular belief or religious practice, provided they are honest and sincere. Consequently, we often hear it said, “One faith is as good as another.” If this idea is right, then one of two conclusions must necessarily follow; either (1) there is no such thing as falsehood and error in religious matters, or (2) one can believe and practice error and still be acceptable to God.
Surely, no one believes that there is no such thing as error and false teaching in religion. The Bible abounds in warnings against being led into religious error. For example, “beware of false prophets…” (Matthew 7:15), “beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1), “we are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6). If there is no such thing as error in religion, then these passages are meaningless. The very fact that there are many contradictory teachings in religion proves that error exists since truth does not contradict itself.
However, consider the second alternative: one can believe and practice error and be pleasing to God. Do you really think that is reasonable? If the Bible is truth (John 17:17), then teaching what is contrary to the Bible is not truth. Only truth is acceptable to God; only obedience to truth will save (John 8:32; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; 1 Peter 1:22). These passages nullify the idea that believing and practicing error can be pleasing to God. Jesus confirmed this when He spoke of some who, on the Day of Judgment, will be rejected even though they had done good and were apparently honest and sincere. They will be rejected because they did not do the will of God – even though they may have been genuinely sincere (Matthew 7:21-23).
It does make a difference what one believes and practices in religion. Being honest and sincere is essential. We must honestly and sincerely believe and practice the truth. Yet, the fact that one is sincere will not change error into truth. If a person drinks what looks like a glass of water, but it is, in fact, laced with poison, his sincerity will not change the consequences. We understand this principle in the physical realm, so why do we have difficulty accepting it in the spiritual realm? In Ephesians 4 1-6 Paul said, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” It does make a difference in which God one believes because there is only one true God. It does make a difference which Lord one accepts and follows because there is only one true Lord, and so forth and so on. May we all understand that it does make a difference what we believe and practice in religion.
In Revelation 21: 19-20 we read about the precious stones that decorated the foundation of the walls of the heavenly city. The fifth stone is sardonyx. This stone consisted of layers of light colored chalcedony alternating with layers of another stone, sard. At least three layers are needed to make a true sardonyx, black, white and red.
The ancients believed that the black symbolized humility. They thought that the white represented chastity, and they considered the red to represent modesty or martyrdom.
God expects his servants, Christians, to have humility. Christians are to have lowliness of mind. They are not to think too highly of themselves. Christ is the perfect example of humility. He was willing to leave heaven and come to earth to die for all men.
The followers of God are also to be chaste or pure. They are to avoid all things evil. Again, Christ is the perfect example of a pure individual. He never sinned. Christians are to follow His example.
Members of the Lord’s church are to be modest in clothing and behavior. They are to cover their bodies to prevent others from being tempted. They are to keep themselves from acting in a sinful manner.
Members of the heavenly Jerusalem are to be ready to die for the cause of Christ. A martyr is one who dies because he is a Christian. Christians are to live as servants of God no matter if it means they will be put to death.
I do not know if God used the sardonyx to give us these messages, but I do know that God wants us to be humble, modest and chaste. Further, I know he wants us to be willing to die to follow Him.
Keep studying your Bible. Learn what you need to do to obey God.